Sexual Abuse Lawyer
David Bryant Law, PLLC
Survivors of sexual abuse face a difficult burden. The physical, emotional, and psychological toll that comes in the aftermath of sexual abuse is devastating. Survivors may suffer from a number of physical and emotional symptoms, they may fear the repercussions of speaking out or they may fear other people’s disbelief.
Victims deserve to have their stories heard and they have a right to seek justice for the harm that has been inflicted on them. At David Bryant Law, we have the experience needed to get victims of sexual abuse the justice and closure they need. We also have the care and compassion for victims to support them through this trying process.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is generally defined as unwanted sexual contact. It is not only unwanted touching of a sexual nature or fondling. It also includes:
- Exposing children to explicit images, pornography, or sexually charged language
- Taking inappropriate images of children for personal use or distribution
- Requesting a minor take or send inappropriate pictures of themselves
- Indecent exposure
- Oral sex
A number of factors can contribute to sexual abuse and an inappropriate use of power is typically involved. These factors include abuse of authority, age, physical size, and other forms of coercion.
Abuse of Authority
Abusers may take advantage of a position of authority to commit an act of sexual abuse against their victim. Because of the authoritative position and power the abuser has over the victim, the victim may feel they have no choice but to give in to the abuse. A teacher becoming sexually involved with a student or a scoutmaster abusing a scout are examples of an abuse of authority.
Children may become the victims of sexual abuse because they are too young to defend themselves from their abuser. They may be unable to understand the things that are being done to them or they may be unable to prevent acts of sexual abuse from occurring.
The psychological impact of childhood sexual abuse cannot be understated. Children who suffer at the hands of a sexual abuser are more likely to develop certain issues later in life. Addictions, personality disorders, anxiety, depression, and others can be linked to childhood sexual abuse.
Differences in Physical Size
Some abusers may use a difference in physical size to take advantage of their victim. A smaller victim may be unable to stop the abuse by a more physically imposing person out of a fear of further harm or an inability to fight off their abuser.
Some groups of people are especially at risk for sexual abuse. Children and the mentally handicapped are incapable of providing their consent for sexual acts and may not be able to understand the acts which are occurring.
Further complicating matters, an abuser may also take advantage of their victim’s mental state by concocting stories to explain away their actions and discourage reporting of abuse. People with a diminished mental state may be unable to report abuse that has happened to them.
Effects of Sexual Abuse
The consequences of sexual abuse for the victim go far beyond the immediate physical effects. The devastating psychological and emotional impact of abuse can stay with a victim for a lifetime.
Later in life, children who have been abused may develop unhealthy attitudes towards sexual relationships, may exhibit destructive behaviors or may develop emotional or psychological conditions. Effects of sexual abuse may include:
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
- Other somatic disorders
Victims may develop serious relationship and intimacy issues and may be unable to carry out fulfilling relationships.
Survivors of sexual abuse may also develop physical symptoms or may be in ill-health later in life either as a direct result of the sexual abuse or as a result of the destructive or disabling psychological aftereffects. These symptoms may include:
- Gastrointestinal health issues
- Gynecological or reproductive health issues
- Cardiopulmonary symptoms
Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Abuse
As mentioned above, certain groups of people, such as children or the mentally handicapped, may be unable to report or recognize the abuse that has happened to them. Professionals who have contact with victims have an obligation to recognize and report the abuse. Some signs that a child has been abused may include:
- Depression and low self-esteem
- Low sense of self-worth
- Sexually acting out for their age
- Promiscuous behavior
- Interest in subjects of a sexual nature
- Changes in behavior that may affect the quality of schoolwork
Survivors of sexual abuse may feel shame or be in denial about suffering abuse. They may blame themselves or may try to hide the fact that they have experienced something that was very traumatic.
If you notice a change in a family member or friend and suspect that the cause stems from sexual abuse, it is important to provide them not only with the love, care, and support they need, but to look into the issue and seek help from a sexual abuse lawyer if the root cause is sexual abuse.
Survivors may exhibit the following signs of sexual abuse:
- Sudden behavioral change
- Development of other mental illnesses
- Decreased quality of work or of schoolwork
- Diminished self-esteem
Broadly defined, sexual assault is a sexual act or behavior that happens without the explicit consent of the victim. It can describe a range of criminal acts that are sexual in nature, from unwanted touching and kissing, to rubbing, groping or forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator in sexual ways. Sexual assault can include:
- Attempted rape
- Forcible sodomy
- Child molestation
Survivors of sexual assault and abuse have the right to come forward about the acts committed against them and have their voices heard. Our attorneys will listen to victims with care and compassion in order to assist in putting together a case so that the survivor can get justice for the trauma they have experienced.
Where Does Sexual Assault Occur?
Sexual assault or abuse can occur anywhere, but in most cases the attacker is known to the victim and attacks happen in familiar places. Sexual assault may occur in the workplace, in a school, or in a person’s home.
Sexual abuse in the workplace can happen because of an uneven power dynamic between workers. Victims may be afraid to come forward about the abuse because they fear they may lose their job or suffer other consequences if they bring the issue up. They may feel like they are trapped in silence for fear of these repercussions.
In schools, teachers or other school employees may take advantage of their position of power to sexually assault or abuse a student. Their inherent authority position may be coercive to a student and, just as in workplace cases, the student may feel that they have no way of reporting the acts without suffering consequences.
In all of these cases, one thing holds true: the victim has the right to come forward and report on the abuse. The abuser must be held accountable for their actions. Institutions that may be negligently allowing abuse to happen or that cover up attacks can also be held accountable for the abuse.
Campus Sexual Assault
Institutions of higher learning should be a safe place for students to study, grow, and explore their opportunities before moving into the workforce, but an unfortunate fact is that sexual misconduct and abuse happen in colleges and universities too.
1 in 5 women report being sexually assaulted on a college campus. This statistic is true regardless of the race, ethnicity or age of the victim. This statistic may be skewed because the 1 in 5 figure comes solely from the number of sexual assaults that are reported to the police. It is speculated that the number of unreported incidents would make the figure even higher.
Sexual assault and abuse may go unreported for many reasons. For instance, the victim may not report a crime to the police out of a fear that the police will not take action or will not take the accusations seriously. The victim may be afraid to speak out due to a fear of not being believed.
In these cases the victim absolutely has the right to come forward and the agencies they report to have a duty to take the claims seriously. When an act of sexual assault or abuse has been committed on a college campus or in the workplace, the victim’s Title IX rights have been violated and a case can be put together to protect the victim and seek justice for them.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Senior citizens residing in nursing homes and other nursing home residents are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Nursing home residents may be taken advantage of by their abuser due to their physical condition or their mental capacity. An untold number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported every year.
Residents in nursing homes may be seen as easy targets for sexual abuse due to their diminshed ability to fend off attackers or to understand the situation. They may be subjected to sexual assault, coercion, or harassment while living in a nursing home by a variety of attackers, including staff members, doctors or nurses, other residents, and even family members.
In cases of nursing home sexual abuse, the facility and it’s administrators may be held responsible in addition to the abuser. A facility may be negligent in its hiring practices, may not properly train staff to identify abuse, may not adequately monitor the residents and staff, or may not have a plan to prevent and address abuse.
Signs of sexual abuse in nursing home residents may include:
- Social or emotional withdrawal
- Agitated behavior
- Developing a STD
- Bruises around the breast or genital area
- Pelvic injuries
If you believe that a loved one residing in a nursing home is the victim of sexual abuse, our attorneys can help you build a case to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions or possible negligence.
Defining Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault in Kentucky
The terms “sexual abuse” and “sexual assault” can easily be confused with one another and knowing the difference can be helpful. Essentially, sexual assault can be included in sexual abuse, but is not always a part of it.
An act of sexual assault requires touching without consent. Unwanted sexual touches, molestation, fondling, and other acts are all considered sexual assault.
Sexual abuse is a broader term than sexual assault which does not require physical touching. Exposing a child to pornography, soliciting inappropriate images from a minor, or abusing the elderly or disabled in a sexual manner are all considered sexual abuse. If the abuser has touched someone who is unable to consent, then sexual assault has occurred. That sexual assault is considered a component of the sexual abuse.
New Legal Options for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
In some cases it may take a victim of sexual abuse years to come to terms with what happened to them. The process of overcoming the feelings that stem from abuse is long and difficult. In the past, some victims have had no way of recovering the damages through the legal system due to statutes of limitations.
Fortunately, many legislators have recently begun proposing and passing laws that expand the statute of limitations in these cases. Many victims may now seek legal action against their abusers when they would have otherwise been blocked from bringing a lawsuit to court.
There are many factors that must be considered when determining any statutes of limitations that may be involved in a given case. Our attorneys can help make this difficult determination and guide you through your options for seeking compensation.
Holding Abusers and Institutions Accountable
In cases of sexual abuse, the victim has the right to come forward and seek justice and compensation for the damages they have suffered. Some cases may be brought before both a civil and a criminal court.
Abusers and their enablers can be held accountable for their actions by bringing a suit against them. Victims may be eligible for monetary compensation and for an injunction against the responsible parties. A survivor may also be key in bringing criminal charges against their abuser.
Holding abusers and their enablers accountable for their actions is a challenging thing for survivors of sexual abuse and assault, but it is also a brave step that may help provide them with some closure and with the compensation they deserve. Our sexual abuse lawyers can help guide victims with a strategy to get them this justice.
Civil Action for Compensation
Victims alleging sexual abuse in civil court proceedings may seek monetary compensation for the abuse that they suffered. Although the money does not erase the trauma that they experienced, the compensation can provide relief for:
- Expenses incurred by past and future mental health counseling
- Expenses for other therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Damages to friendships and family relationships
Statutory and punitive damages may also be pursued against the responsible party if they are available in your case.
Our attorneys can help you put together a case and identify the ways that sexual abuse has affected you so that you can recieve the appropriate compensation for your experience. A civil suit for sexual abuse can be difficult to go through, but going forward with a suit can help survivors get the support and resources they need.
Civil Action for an Injunction
In addition to seeking monetary damages in civil court, a survivor may also request that the court award them with injunctive relief. In these cases, the court may issue an injunction, or court order, against the defendant. This court order will direct the abuser and any enabling institutions or individual on what steps to take to prevent further abuse.
Examples of injunctions in these cases include an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) or a Domestic Violence Order (DVO).
Participation in a Criminal Proceeding
Some cases may have a criminal court component in addition to the civil court component. Prosecutors may seek criminal charges against the abuser and any enablers. It may be difficult for survivors to face their abusers in a criminal court as these cases often rely on witness testimony from the victim.
Some victims may worry about the publicity that may come with a criminal court case, but the courage it takes to testify from a witness stand can help them receive the justice they deserve for the abuse they suffered. Our sexual abuse attorneys can help victims by providing them with sound advice and support through this difficult time.
What’s Involved in Seeking Justice for Sexual Abuse
Coming forward with your story of sexual abuse can be a very difficult thing to do. A survivor may fear the repercussions of bringing allegations against their abuser or they may fear that they will not be believed. They may fear any form of confrontation with their abuser at all. Overcoming these difficult feelings is the first step in seeking justice for their case.
When a survivor begins considering taking legal action against their abuser, it is important to begin building an emotional support system for the decisions involved in a legal process. It may be beneficial to seek out a professional counselor or therapist for support through this trying time.
The first meeting with a sexual abuse attorney does not obligate a survivor to any legal action. The consultation is free and fully confidential. A sexual abuse attorney will listen to a survivor’s story with care and compassion before providing them with an idea about their legal options. This advice comes without any pressure to pursue any legal action the victim is not prepared to go through with.
If a victim chooses to go forward with legal action, the sexual abuse attorney will guide them every step of the way. We provide our clients with a legal strategy, build the case, and investigate what forms of compensation and injunctions can be sought in civil court. We also guide our clients through any criminal proceedings.
The decision to pursue legal action rests only with the victim of abuse, but if they choose to take action, our attorneys will guide them through the process of identifying the liable parties, filing a lawsuit, negotiating a settlement, and going to trial if necessary.
Attorneys for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
At David Bryant Law, we have the experience it takes to get survivors of sexual abuse justice. We can provide you with the guidance you need to put your case together, hold your abuser and any enablers accountable, file your suit, negotiate a settlement, and take cases like these to trial.
Sexual abuse can be devastating and its effects can be painstakingly difficult to deal with. We support survivors with the care and compassion needed to get them through the legal process.
Our attorneys are ready to provide the help a survivor needs. Contact our office at (502) 540-1221 for a free and confidential review of your legal rights and options.
David Bryant Law, PLLC
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